With most teams opening spring training camps this week, let’s skip ahead to the victory celebration and imagine how baseball’s general managers and decision makers might sum up a run to the championship.
MARINERS, Jack Zduriencik: “Sure, it’s a top-heavy payroll, but Brad Miller, Kyle Seager and Mike Zunino provided major production at minimal cost, and Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Taijuan Walker gave us three shutdown starters in October.” The other GM’s statements are at: How General Managers Foresee a World Series in 2014. Source: Tyler Kepner at the New York Times
Keep hearing from industry insiders that it’s a matter of time before Mariners reach deal with free-agent outfielder Nelson Cruz. From: Bob Dutton at The News Tribune
Nelson Cruz, OF, free agent — We reported last week about the Mariners’ interest in the former Rangers slugger, and that has not waned. The number of years is still the sticking point, but the Mariners believe they need another big righthanded bat to complete their team and have been willing to go where no other team has ventured throughout the offseason with Cruz — possibly two years and an option for a third. The Mariners have always had to overbid for free agents because of their location and this is a prime example. Source: Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe
Kendrys Morales, 1B/DH, free agent — Morales fits what the Pirates need, a first baseman/middle of the order hitter. There’s mutual interest, but while the Pirates would love him on the right contract, they may also pursue a first baseman via trade. There are a few possible candidates, including the Mets’ Ike Davis, Toronto’s Adam Lind, Texas’s Mitch Moreland, and even Seattle’s Justin Smoak and Boston’s Daniel Nava and Mike Carp. Source: Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe
AL West Commentary
[A’s GM Billy] Beane: “Anything we add at this point would be from a depth standpoint.” Asked specifically about adding big bat, he said, “No.” From: Jane Lee at MLB.com
Tom Haudricourt at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel offers a neutral outsiders thumbnail view of the AL West at the start of spring training.
Houston Astros (Kissimmee, Florida) The fact that newcomer Scott Feldman immediately moved to the top spot in the rotation shows how much work the Astros have to do in that area. Josh Fields, who recorded his first five saves in the majors last year, will attempt to protect any leads his teammates give him.
Los Angeles Angels (Tempe, Arizona) The Angels will need bounce-back seasons from first baseman Albert Pujols, outfielder Josh Hamilton and new third baseman David Freese to give Mike Trout some offensive help. Kole Calhoun gets the chance to prove he should be the everyday right fielder.
Oakland Athletics (Phoenix, Arizona) The Athletics remade their already solid bullpen by adding closer Jim Johnson and setup man Luke Gregerson. Eric Sogard, Nick Punto and Alberto Callaspo will battle for time at second base.
Seattle Mariners (Peoria, Arizona) Robinson Cano can’t carry the offense single-handedly, so the Mariners will count on Corey Hart returning to health and youngsters Dustin Ackley and Justin Smoak meeting expectations. There is considerable buzz around pitching prospect Taijuan Walker joining the starting rotation.
Texas Rangers (Surprise, Arizona) The Rangers changed their offensive look by adding a new leadoff hitter, Shin-Soo Choo, and left-handed slugger Prince Fielder. Now they will count on Neftali Feliz’s return as closer to protect late leads and look for a replacement for starter Derek Holland while he recovers from knee surgery.
So they said
“I really believe if you’re going to be a championship team, “ [Mariners new Manager Lloyd] McClendon said, “you can’t give teams more than 27 outs. So make the routine play.” Source: Bob Dutton at The News Tribune
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Heard from Chris Capuano’s agent, Michael Moye: “Chris is in excellent physical condition and his mound sessions are going extremely well.” From: Jon Morosi at Fox Sports
Capuano’s value has been similar to Vargas or Maholm the past three seasons (with 4.8 total fWAR), but he only pitched 105 2/3 innings last year due to a series of injuries, and he has two Tommy John surgeries in his past. Given Capuano’s tendency to pitch reasonably strong innings when healthy, though, he could give his next team great value. Maholm’s contract could be a bargain for the Dodgers, and the team that picks up Capuano could be in line for a bargain as well. Source: Charlie Wilmoth at MLB Trade Rumors
Sources: Orioles talking with LH free agent starters Joe Saunders and Chris Capuano. From: Jon Morosi at Fox Sports
There’s an enormous gap between the Reds last offer and what Homer Bailey wants in a long-term deal, source says. It’s going to take some major compromise for Bailey to sign and avoid hitting the market as a free agent in November. From: Jerry Crasnick at ESPN
Ervin Santana’s long international nightmare might be drawing to an end. Santana’s camp is talking with multiple teams and making progress toward a new deal for the free-agent right-hander, according to major league sources. The Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays are among the teams in contact with Santana’s agents at Proformance Baseball, sources said. Source: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports
Free agent LHP Nate Robertson has spoken with several clubs, looking for chance at bullpen spot in spring training. 3.04 ERA at AAA in 2013. From: Jon Morosi at Fox Sports
Draft, Prospects & Farm News
Matt Garrioch at Minor League Ball has ranked the top 300 2014 amateur draft prospects at 2014 MLB draft top 300 prospects if you want to see how any of the top prospects you are aware of are ranked. Needless to say there are some winners and some losers listed. The guys who cash the big paychecks are supposed to be able to tell the difference and they are not always right either.
The top pitcher in this year’s [International] class is Huascar Ynoa, who has a famous older brother in A’s righty Michael Ynoa, who holds the record for the top July 2nd pitcher bonus at $4.25 million. At the MLB showcase, Huascar worked at 91-93 mph with a chance for three plus pitches, including an advanced changeup and improving curveball. He doesn’t have a deal in place yet, but is likely to receive a bonus of $2 million or more on July 2nd. Source: Kiley McDaniel at MLB Scout
You do not have to spend big to win. That point has been hammered home often in the majors, most recently just last year.
Of the clubs with the top 10 payrolls in 2013, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, just three made the playoffs. Of the clubs with the bottom five payrolls last year, three made the playoffs. So only 30 percent of the top payroll clubs made the postseason while 60 percent of the bottom five made it. Source: Steve Melewski at MASN
The top 10 payrolls from 2013:
$229 million – New York Yankees
$217 million – Los Angeles Dodgers
$160 million – Philadelphia Phillies
$159 million – Boston Red Sox
$149 million – Detroit Tigers
$137 million – San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels
$125 million – Texas Rangers
$124 million – Chicago White Sox
$119 million – Toronto Blue Jays
Bottom five payrolls from 2013:
$67 million – Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland A’s
$62 million – Tampa Bay Rays
$50 million – Miami Marlins
$26 million – Houston Astros
MLB will test drive its expanded instant replay system during some televised games in Florida and Arizona. Under the new rules, a manager will be able to demand a review of up to two calls per game. Close plays, even those not under review, finally can be shown on video scoreboards. Hit by pitch, trapped balls in the outfield and fan interference are among the plays that may be reviewed. Source: Rob Biertempfel at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
By The Numbers
Freddie Freeman ‘s 8-year deal will pay him more than the combined career earnings of Schmidt, Boggs, Raines, Brett and Yount. From: Gabe Kapler
(Sure but they could buy a pack of cigarettes for less than a dollar then.)
Over the last three seasons, no one has given up more homers than Bronson Arroyo (104) and Ervin Santana (91). From: The Bill Chuck Files